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January 14th, 2008


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10:52 pm - ...and all the little people...
Well, the Golden Globe winners were announced by press conference this year instead of a gala ceremony full of fun, frolic, and somebody invariably making a fool of themselves at one of the tables. The WGA writer's strike presented a picket line which many celebrities and writers staunchly refused to cross and, well, after receiving many too RSVPs back with neither [ ] Chicken, [ ] Fish nor [ ] Vegetarian checked but "[X] SCREW YOU" scrawled underneath, the Golden Globes gulped and decided to can the whole thing. This was bad for NBC, which had exclusive broadcast rights to the Golden Globes ceremony and suddenly found themselves with four hours' worth of programming to fill, but it was actually a boon for humanity, as it kept the likes of Bruce Vilanch from carefully crafting "spontaneous" one-liners for whoever was supposed to host.

In the face of dead air, NBC gamely tried to provide some kind of entertainment during the press conference, bringing out that bastion of class, Mr. Billy Bush, to provide erudite commentary along with oh I don't even know who she is. We've seen Billy before in the aisles of the Kodak Auditorium during the Academy Awards pre-show, annoying the likes of Jack Nicholson and Julia Roberts as they try to get by him to JUST GET TO THEIR GODDAMN SEAT IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK, and he's about as welcome at the ceremony as a HUAC namedropper. Billy's always made me feel very, very embarrassed for him whenever he speaks. I don't even need to hear him, I can just read his assessment of Cate Blanchett's win for I'm Not There ("At the end of the day, it's a woman imitating a man") and cringe inwardly and grasp for the nearest liquor bottle. Good job, Billy. Here's a snausage. Now go back to whatever hyperbaric chamber they keep you in until E! calls.

The problem was that NBC was just begging for something, anything to show that they brought in the A-Team there. Why? Because that's how awards shows are. That's what they've become. We have to keep some semblance of normalcy in these, our troubled times. We need the glitz and the glamour and the musical montages. There's even whispers on the wind that should the WGA strike continue as it probably will, the Academy Awards ceremony will be similarly cancelled. And to that I can only say
YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES, CANCEL IT, OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEEEEEEEEEEEEZE I KISSA YOU FEET MWAH MWAH MWAH.
Let's face it. The Academy Awards ceremony has become a rumbling behemoth of self-eating hype. Oh, sure, it's a spectacle, it's a giant spectacle with lots of money poured into it, but so was Carrie: The Musical. The cinematic achievements of Hollywood do deserve to be recognized and honored, and the Oscar is indeed the perennial pinnacle of peer appreciation, but could it could do with just a little less, well, everything.

It's the juggernaut of awards shows. It's been allowed to expand to humongous proportions, rumba rumba snort rip, and it's really outgrown itself. The hype surrounding the Academy Awards is only topped, I think, by Super Bowl hype and election hype (in whatever order you care to place them.) Entertainment reporters live for this kind of thing. These guys, who you've never heard of, suddenly appear to be important in front of the red carpet (kinda like the guy who "hosts" the pre-show ads at the movie theater and signs off self-importantly with "I'm Kyle Hart" as if that actually means something.) The Oscars justify these guys' existence! It's the big show and there they are! There's the red carpet! There's Joan and Melissa Rivers doing the same thing they've been doing for years! There I am, watching something else and content to read the results the next morning in the paper!

Of course, it wasn't always this way. Take a look at old Academy Awards ceremony footage, back from the 1930s and 40s. It started as an industry ceremony for the industry. Hell, it started as a banquet. Sure, everybody dressed up nice and make little acceptance speeches, but you didn't need anything else. You were there to honor those who deserved it (or who didn't deserve it, if you felt that way.) But this is Hollywood, so the show had to evolve into a see-and-be-seen kind of thing. It moved over to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in LA, and Bob Hope suddenly became the perennial host, then Johnny Carson. Fair enough. But sometime in the 1980s everything exploded. The hosts became the show: David Letterman failed, Billy Crystal nearly wore out his welcome, and Whoopi Goldberg was just plain mystifying. (Steve Martin, however, can do no wrong in my book.) Rob Lowe sang "Proud Mary" with Snow White. The numbers went longer, the "Who are you wearing?" question became the norm, and you couldn't say "the winner is" anymore because in these happy days, everybody is a winner. Except for the four people whose name was not just called. This is not Everybody Gets A Trophy Day, people.

It's not as if the Oscars are useless or irrelevant; they're not. The awards themselves do represent achievement, hard work, and expertise in one's craft. And the ceremony has provided us with some indelible pop-culture moments: Marlon Brando's Native American emissary stepping up to refuse Brando's Godfather win, the streaker (and David Niven's lovely quip about the poor man's shortcomings -- which WAS improvised, thank you very much, and not scribbled on a little card by a cadre of writers), Jack Palance's one-armed pushups, Roberto Benigni crawling over seats like a little methmonkey who wanted to kiss the entire audience, Sally Field's famous and oft-parodied acceptance speech, Cuba Gooding, Jr. going crazy, Trey Parker and Matt Stone showing up in drag (wisely realizing that this was going to be their only Oscar shot, so they might as well go for it), and swanBjork. Okay, so perhaps some are more indelible than others.

Yet there are some real moments, real, beautiful moments: Susan Hayward's final public appearance in 1974, where she accepted an invitation to present an award despite being all but decimated by cancer. Given shots of dopamine right before she went on and supported by longtime friend Charlton Heston, her withered left hand covered by a silk drape, she made her appearance with all the grace in the world. Charlie Chaplin made an appearance in 1971 to accept a lifetime award, coming out of European exile and receiving a grand ovation. Some acceptance speeches are truly heartfelt. You can tell. Others have been over-rehearsed. So it goes.

Hollywood tries very hard to create pathos and drama like that, but you can't. You really can't. The event has to be real for the feelings to be true. The over-orchestrated, over-controlled, over-time Oscars event as we know it just has no time to allow that anymore. Take too long in your acceptance speech, no matter how emotional you are, and they'll play you off the stage -- the genteel equivalent of The Hook. The show has become self-parody; even the hosts and presenters joke about the lame dance numbers ahead and the inevitable fact that the show will run long, way too long. One year we even learned words to the "play you off the stage" song. Come on.

I dunno. I think if the ceremony is to be replaced by a press conference this year, maybe it'll be a good thing. Maybe we can start next year truly fresh and new, rejiggering the entire thing. Maybe all the needless pomp can be cut and the focus put back where it belongs -- on the nominees and the eventual winners, and not on the awards show itself. But it won't happen. Too many people are making money off it.

(25 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:ckd
Date:January 15th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
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The problem was that NBC was just begging for something, anything to show that they brought in the A-Team there.

What, Mr. T building a tank out of spare statuettes in the back room?
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
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I love it when a plan comes together.
[User Picture]
From:ckd
Date:January 15th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
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Dirk Benedict and Katee Sackhoff double-team

Now there's a slashfic prompt....
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From:dcart
Date:January 15th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
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Is it going too far to say that Billy is the smart Bush?
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From:ckd
Date:January 15th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
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You might even say Billy Carter is the smart Bush. (I can just imagine the commercials for Dubya Beer.)
[User Picture]
From:moneypenny
Date:January 15th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)

EVE WAS WEAK

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For my pertinent commentary, all I can say is thank you for standing up for art, and by that I mean acknowledging the existence of Carrie: The Musical. funkydoda and I are plotting a revival.
[User Picture]
From:resk
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)

Re: EVE WAS WEAK

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You, young lady, are ODD.

That is good.

I am also odd.

I have friended you.

Feel free to do the same.

Or not.


Hi!
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)

Re: EVE WAS WEAK

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Random "Hey, you're odd" noticing!

That's how moneypenny and I friended each other, too!
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)

Re: EVE WAS WEAK

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I cannot back such a venture financially, but you totally got my moral support. Any musical with choreographed tampon-throwing NEEDS to be shared with the rest of the world.
[User Picture]
From:resk
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)

Re: EVE WAS WEAK

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Any musical with choreographed tampon-throwing

First thing that came to mind: Blue Man Group.

Of course, that was more about the toilet paper and the percussion.

STILL.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:January 15th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
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I remember shortly after Fahrenheit 911 came out, Micheal Moore stating that he'd gone after the wrong Bush on Conan.

Still, I was kinda looking forward to a live performance of "Walk Hard" this year.

Edited at 2008-01-15 01:47 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:resk
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)

"These teachers of mine were really great! Oh! And they're GAY!!!!!"

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As an actor, The Academy Awards were always a BIG DEAL for me. That is, until 3 years ago, when I had to work and couldn't watch it. The amazing thing was this:

I didn't miss it!

The following year, I had rehearsal for a production of Plaza Suite (I played Roy Hubley). Again, I missed it. Again, I didn't miss it. Last year, I could've watched. Didn't.

The Oscars telecast is everything you have said it is. This entry of yours is a much-needed soothing salve since the days of ozy_y2k's Annual Oscar Rants are over. At least for now.

I thank you, sir, for your insight, candor, and humor.

May this year's Oscar Telecast be cancelled!
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

Re: "These teachers of mine were really great! Oh! And they're GAY!!!!!"

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The same thing happened to me with regards to the Oscars: I missed a showing one year, and I didn't miss it one bit. I read the highlights the next day, I saw the list of winners, and I was happy.

However, the real way you can improve the viewing is to watch it with a group of friends and a good supply of alcohol. When the snark flies, it's fun. The downside: The show's on Sunday which makes showing up at work on Monday tough.
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From:resk
Date:January 15th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)

I have done this. It is indeed FUN!

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When I worked at allmovie.com, we had a $10 per person Oscar Pool. I won over $200. It's blindingly easy to pick the winners. The only reason my boss lost to me is that he picked Annette Bening in American Beauty to beat Hillary Swank in Boys Don't Cry.

Swank kicked Bening's ass again a few years later.
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From:dcart
Date:January 15th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)

Re: I have done this. It is indeed FUN!

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"Both performances proving the old maxim: people love seeing Hillary Swank being beaten to death..."

[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
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When was the Academy Awards ceremony first televised in full? That's the change that made all the difference.
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From:muse0fire
Date:January 15th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
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It is this kind of beautifully eloquent and significantly humorous writing that makes me glad I found your blog.

And yes, a thousand times yes, cancel the damn Oscars this year. Bring it back as a new animal - maybe something closer to what it was supposed to be.
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From:cheezdanish
Date:January 15th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
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AUGH AUGH AUGH BILLY BUSH AUGH I SEE HIM EVERY DAY AT WORK ON THE QUEUE MONITORS I LOATHE HIM AND NANCY O'DELL SO MUCH AUGH AUGH AUGH
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
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HEY I HAVE A GREAT GAME!

I'M GOING TO PLAY AN EASILY-RECOGNIZABLE MOVIE THEME SONG AND IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW IT, JUST SHOUT IT OUT! YEAH! SHOUT IT OUT WHILE YOU'RE RIDING THE 15-MINUTE ESCALATOR! THIS WAS A TOUGH GAME FOR ME, I ONLY GOT 2 OUT OF 5 CORRECT BUT THAT WAS BECAUSE NANCY O'DELL WAS HELPING ME, BUT I BET YOU GUYS ARE ALL SUPER SMART!


(yeah, heard that one a few hundred times that day...) ;)
[User Picture]
From:cheezdanish
Date:January 15th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
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I know, I know. I know.

Now, do what I do and work there.

And also, that fifteen minute escalator ride is so full of suck. :(
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 15th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
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I referenced "The Slow Ramp to the Stars" in Havoc Over Holowood just for you.

Well, and a bunch of other bits, but the slow ramp was definitely inspired by ... yeah.
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From:jp_land
Date:January 15th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
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I agree with almost all of this, except for them being useful and relevant. I've never seen them as being anything other than self pats on the back as well as a way to self promote their own careers. Everybody there says they act for the craft's sake. If that were true, none of them would even care about getting a prize.

Actors play pretend as a job. That's all acting is. Pretending to be a cop. Pretending to be a musician. Pretending to be an Indian, mobster, sports player. And the people winning usually are not the best of their field. They are the best marketers and politicians, and hence showing up: market themselves, shake hands, and smile pretty for the camera.

Actors aren't important. They aren't needed to survive and advance. I just don't understand why people go all bonkers over actors. I can watch a 5 year-old play pretend... and I don't have to shell out $13 to do so.
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From:pecosy
Date:January 16th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
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I was scrolling down my f'list (I like to read from my last-read post upwards) and all I saw of this post the first time around was "they brought in the A-Team" and I was so hopeful. But you didn't mean THAT A-Team. :(
[User Picture]
From:samethreechords
Date:January 16th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
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The point that I noticed something was wrong was when Hillary Swank (I think) gave an acceptance speech that included thanking her lawyer.

However, as a meek defense of the Oscars' ridiculousness, I offer this, since I do think the world would be a poorer place without it.

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